4-string or 5-string Banjo Uke?

Jibgirl

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I am working on learning Clawhammer on my Soprano Firefly (purchased here a few years back) and if I get anywhere near decent, I was going to reward myself with an upgrade from my plastic fretboard.

I do know Bean Sprout has a 5-String. Have not researched to the point of knowing if anyone else does.

TIA
 

merlin666

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Banjo is mysterious but pretty sure that clawhammer needs 5th string for drone. Re-entrant uke might work too.
 

Jibgirl

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I've seen the 4th string used for the drone, specifically by Aaron in his clawhammer lesson series, but yeah, I was wondering if it would be better to have the 5th there. Still in the early days of this. Appreciate the answer. thanks.
 

anthonyg

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That 5 string instrument from Beansprout is VERY unique and in fact they call it a mini banjo and NOT a banjo ukulele. I suspect that this is because its in banjo tuning and not ukulele tuning so you will have to do some research on it. A banjo ukulele is built like a banjo but has ukulele tuning. I don't think that this will be the case with the 5 string instrument.
 

Jibgirl

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That 5 string instrument from Beansprout is VERY unique and in fact they call it a mini banjo and NOT a banjo ukulele. I suspect that this is because its in banjo tuning and not ukulele tuning so you will have to do some research on it. A banjo ukulele is built like a banjo but has ukulele tuning. I don't think that this will be the case with the 5 string instrument.

You are quite right. All that late night Bean Sprout Gallery surfing and his banjo ukes and mini Banjos all started to run together. I see, reading closely, that he recommends banjo tuning on the mini as you point out. I guess it will come down to my commitment to and enjoyment of clawhammer, and if I find myself yearning for a 5th string. Time will tell. For now I will sit on my hands, at least as far as buying goes.
 

acmespaceship

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Magic Fluke makes a 5-string Firefly with a maple (not plastic) fretboard, just in case you get the urge to go late-night surfing again.

Meanwhile, you can get a similar (not identical) sound on a 4-string uke in re-entrant tuning. Treat the 4th string as a drone; do not fret it. As a general rule, drone strings are tuned to either the root or 5th note of the scale. This means if your 4th string is tuned to G, you can play in the keys of G and C (and their relative minors Em and Am). If you try to play in other keys, a G drone might not sound good. This is why banjo players re-tune to play in different keys.

Maybe you already knew this, but other readers might find it useful. I play mountain dulcimer (2 drone strings) and it seems that some people understand drones right away while others have trouble wrapping their brains around the concept.
 

Jibgirl

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Meanwhile, you can get a similar (not identical) sound on a 4-string uke in re-entrant tuning. Treat the 4th string as a drone; do not fret it. As a general rule, drone strings are tuned to either the root or 5th note of the scale. This means if your 4th string is tuned to G, you can play in the keys of G and C (and their relative minors Em and Am). If you try to play in other keys, a G drone might not sound good. This is why banjo players re-tune to play in different keys.

I did not know this, and thank you, this is very helpful. I was noodling around yesterday without thinking and fretted the g-string and experienced audio disappointment as my drone changed tone. And now I understand the whole "banjo players spend 90% of their time tuning and 10% playing" gag. thanks again.
:)
 

merlin666

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Banjo tuning is a good one. There may be dozens of commonly used tunings for banjo.
 

ksiegel

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I think Gold Tone makes mini 5-strings as well. Nowhere near the quality you'd get from Aaron, but nowhere near the price, either.